Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Braving the world

Today we crept out into the streets of Essaouira, having holed up for the better part of 2 days.

We have eaten pasta with courgette, onion and tomatoes and bread and jam for 2 days as the thought of going shopping was just too much.

But we had a thoroughly enjoyable day with only a few 'moments' of unpleasantness.

We walked down to the water front - a place bustling with activity. There were fishermen taking care of fish - gutting and cleaning etc. Seagulls swooping in anticipation of the scraps. Cats stalking - also in anticipation of the scraps, and maybe something a little better...

The smell was something else!! Not a nice fishing village sort of fishy smell, but a full on 'fish guts from the last 100 years left in the heat' sort of fishy smell.

There were lots of men sweeping and scooping up caked on layers of sand from the walkways and we both thought it seemed odd that it had got to that state without being dealt with earlier. It was only later that I remembered a conversation with someone a couple of days earlier, he had said there was a movie being filmed here and they had put sand down to cover the cobbles for the set. I guess filming was over.

We walked out towards the fishing boats and got 'got' by a man who wanted to show a boat that was being built. We weren't remotely interested, but of course he managed to drag us in. After 2 minutes telling us about the wood used in the building of the boat, he then asked for money for his little 'tour'. I just happened to have 3 dirham in my pocket (and genuinely no more as we were yet to go to the bank) which I knew was a pittance, so handed it to him happily. He asked for more and I said I had no more, I needed to go to the bank, and he went off moaning and grumping.

How is it, someone invites me to go see something, they then expects me to pay for the privilage. Moroccan culture is obviously very different from my own.

We had some breakfast (ripped off again) and then went off to do a bit of shopping. Mum was keen on getting some slippers, which she duly did in a painless way (not ripped off).

I also bought some shoes (not ripped off) and then we wandered down towards the sea front, but a different point. The wind was incredible, so strong and blustery. We ended up covered in sand and sprayed sea water.

Home again buying some vegies for dinner (not ripped off) and then to buy tickets for the bus tomorrow (not ripped off).

So in general a good day. After thinking that I would only take the one memory card for my camera as it still had space for over 400 photos, I ended up having to delete some along the way - it was a big day for the camera!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Never to be repeated!

Yesterday we braved our first Grand Taxi on the open road. Never ever will we set foot in one again - and advise all others to consider very carefully this mode of transport.

We had read and heard about the drivers being kamikaze madmen, but it couldn't be that bad... could it?

YES!! In a word, it can be that bad AND worse.

We left Marrakech at 4.30pm and getting out of the city was fine. Once on the open road though, the driver became obsessed with being in front of every vehicle on the road - those going in our direction and those not!

I said to mum at one point, 'I hate to think how fast we are going', and from where she sat she coud see the speedo.

'100... 110... 120.... 130' came the terrified whisper in my ear.

We swerved in and out of the traffic barely enough room at times for the ocassional 3 vehicles side by side on the 2 laned road. Scooters, bikes, pedestrians and donkeys were tooted a warning before being passed within inches.

There were several miles of road works in a few locations and these were treated more like a race track then the road - many vehicles were overtaken while on 40km/h restrictions.

He knew exactly where the police with speed cameras hung out so would drive sedately past them, only to put his foot down the second they were out of sight.

At one point, mum gasped as he overtook in a very stupid place barely missing an oncoming car.

'What are you worried about, we missed it by several millimetres' I said in relief.

We made it to Essaouira at 7.10pm. I think if there had not been so much traffic and road works, we would have broken the record for Marrakech to Essaouira.

Thank goodness for traffic and road works.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Watermelon and desert

We're back in Marrakech, both been sick and I am still recovering. Yesterday felt like I had been run over by a steam engine. Today only a few scooters have run me over so must be improving!

The desert was great, loved the camels, and the sunrise and sunset were pretty - although a bit underwhelming. The clouds came over as we got closer to Merzouga - where we left from to ride into the sunset. I took a temperature reading from Merzouga and because of the wind I couldn't get an accurate one, but was between 40.8 and 43.4 celcius. Quite warm really....

The food at the camp was the best yet, but I was unable to eat more then a couple of pieces of carrot.

Mr Camel was very good to me and we enjoyed each others company very much.

Before we got to the desert we drove through a few sand storms and were very thankful that we were in the car with windows up!

I will hopefully be able to upload some photos soon as we are staying a few days in one of mum's former clients house in Essaouira. We are hoping to take a break from the manic activity and hide indoors with a very big watermelon and some oranges for juice.